New York will pay $3.5 million to a Bronx mother whose son was violently restrained by prison workers until he stopped breathing, according to court papers.
Anntwanisha Thompson will receive $2.28 million after legal fees for the death of her son, Darryl Thompson.
The agreement was made after U.S. District Judge David Hurd signed off on the federal court settlement last week.
The settlement also ends the suit for personal injuries filed in state court by the mother.
The 15-year-old boy died in November of 2006 after two prison youth division aides restrained him at the former Tryon Boys Residential Center in Fulton County, NY.
According to the lawsuit, Thompson was violently restrained to the point that he was not able to breathe. Prison workers ignored his desperate pleas for help. He died shortly later from heart failure.
The family’s attorney, E. Robert Keach III, told theGrio that the money gives little solace for what happened: “There’s no amount of money that is going to compensate for this boy’s life.”
He added the mother continues to suffer with the loss of her son: “She has very bad moments with it, especially on anniversary of the boy’s death and on his birthday.”
Yet this story links to a greater problem that African-Americans continue face: juvenile violence. If not for this problem, the victim may have never found himself behind bars to face even greater violence through the justice system.
USC Gould School of Law Professor Jody David Armour, who is an expert in African American juvenile violence, said it has been a serious problem for the last thirty years.
“When African American youth do not have much hope for the future, they don’t care about getting caught up in violence,” he told theGrio.
Armour said he believes society cannot wait for black youth to simply take personal responsibility.
“This is a long-run social epidemic,” Armour said. “We need to improve the socioeconomic trajectory of African-American youth by encouraging them to get more involved in their communities as well by providing them with greater educational opportunities and better role models.”
Armour said society should not focus on juvenile violence, because it only feeds into despair.
“Politicians and society need to start focusing on helping youth, especially African-Americans, rather than simply focusing on the problem,” he said. “We need to take the same responsibility back that we had in the 60s for African-Americans if we want to make a difference.”
The city of Milwaukee is the first city to investigate the black male unemployment that often feeds into the cycle of hopelessness.
In New York City this year Mayor Bloomberg recently instituted programs that seek to break the cycle Professor Armour describes.
However, sadly out of thousands of metropolitan areas in which this is a problem, these are the only two municipalities that have taken concrete steps to address the youth violence that victims like Darryl Thompson fall prey to.
Since the future can only be what one makes of it, maybe it’s time that African-Americans start helping our youth make the most of their futures…
TheGrio tried contacting Anntwanisha Thompson, but she was unavailable for comment.